Olympus releases 2nd quarter financial results

cptobvious

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Imaging Systems Business

Net sales in the Imaging Systems Business during the six months ended September 30, 2014 amounted to ¥40,110 million (down 14.7% year on year), while operating loss amounted to ¥4,596 million (compared with an operating loss of ¥2,711 million in the same period of the previous fiscal year).

In the digital single-lens camera field, there were positive developments such as sales growth for the OM-D series, in Europe and the U.S., particularly “OM-D E-M10.” Even so, in response to shrinkage in the compact
camera market as a whole, we limited the number of units sold in this field. Consequently, there was a decline in sales in the Imaging Systems Business overall. Operating loss increased in this business reflecting the decrease in sales and investment carried out to develop BtoB operations.
http://www.olympus-global.com/en/common/pdf/brief147PA_4.pdf

Higher operating loss recorded due to failure to meet sales target for mirrorless cameras, an area where strong growth is being targeted

Reasons for Failure to Meet Mirrorless Camera Sales Target
1. Slowdown in Japanese and other Asian markets
2. Sluggish PEN series sales
3. Deterioration in cost ratios due to depreciated yen
http://www.olympus-global.com/en/common/pdf/brief147PA_5.pdf
 

eteless

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OK so a decrease is bad, it means you can't have nice things... however it appears to be because the market for compact cameras is basically gone, the reason it isn't a larger amount (the compact camera decline for the same period appears to be around 220% of the total decline at 10.7 billion yen) is because mirrorless increased significantly (napkin math says about 80% as much as the total loss in profit(3.8 billion yen)).

It just seems like an absolutely tiny amount in the scheme of things when compared to what they spend on R&D(and thus money earned via patent sales(BToB) or in other areas) or just repaying loans, could it just be a storm in a teacup?

Disclaimer: I've spent most of today running around in the sun (wasn't really that hot, only 25-30c or so, just lasted a lot longer than expected) so my napkin math/logic may be off, please inform me if that is the case... :smile:
 

cptobvious

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My $0.02: the problem I think for Olympus is that they don't have many silver bullets left. The imaging division was big on selling compacts and their PEN series (especially in Japan), but as you said the compact market is all but gone and PEN sales are struggling. It's basically the OM-D line holding the division up with the E-M1 and E-M10. The E-M10 has sold well but since Black Friday, Sony has been on a tear with their mirrorless sales (particularly the A6000). The sales charts of the big mirrorless retailers in the U.S. are all dominated by Sony at the moment. I think quite a few buyers deciding between the A6000 and the E-M10 went with the A6000 because of the sales.

The E-M1 and PRO lenses are still a draw for wealthier buyers, but there'll be more competition with full-frame DSLRs going below the $1500 mark, Fuji's XT-1 still selling well and Sony releasing the new A7 II.

I also think Olympus has not been aggressive enough with their pricing in the U.S. - it appears they are more interested in keeping margins up than selling more cameras, especially since the yen has dropped almost 50% against the dollar in 3 years. Look at the pricing between Amazon.co.jp and Amazon.com, for items sold and shipped by Amazon. The E-M1 and 12-40mm f/2.8 lens costs the equivalent of about $1500 USD in Japan. The E-M5 and 12-40mm f/2.8 special edition kit is about $950. The E-P5, 17mm f/1.8 and VF-4 kit is under $750. Obviously there are extra costs of selling in the U.S., but you're talking about a $600 gap in price in each instance.
 

hookgrip

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Hopefully Micro 4/3 doesn't go down the same route as Olympus's 4/3 SLRs did. However, things aren't looking great for Olympus at the moment.
 

broody

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Oly and Pany have to get their game together. They're not releasing models with the features they've been asked for (no PEN with a viewfinder, no Lumix with 4K past the GH4).

Panasonic is most lauded for its video/hybrid capabilities, but while every lowly Canon Rebel has come with a mic jack for ages, not even the high-end GX7 had one. Also, they seem to have lost their focus with uninspiring recent announcements (30mm F/2.8, GF7...), while their good cameras are getting long in the tooth.

Oly's selfie campaign for the EPL7 was a disgrace, even getting Robin Wong on board with it. Just give us a PEN with a viewfinder, possibly a hybrid. Fuji has been gaining ground non-stop with a gimmick-less approach.
 

pdk42

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I really hope Oly can stem this tide. How long can they go on with falling sales and big losses? I know their medical imaging business is where the cash is made, but any business manager with an eye to short/medium term profit would close the camera business down in an instant. We should all be grateful that Japanese business culture takes a much longer term view than the Anglo-Saxon view in the West.
 

Ricoh

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Only if 'we' keep buying their cameras etc.
I was reading today that Greece is 2nd to Japan in terms of deficit. I find that quite amazing for such an industrious country, until you study the demographics in terms of age and employment. People live quite a long time in Japan and they have to be supported. Other factors apply as well I'm sure.
 

Serhan

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Both Sony/Panasonic are trying but Apple/Samsung are hard to beat. Sony is looking for buyer to its money loosing cell phone/tv businesses. Ericson was with Sony. Microsoft bought Nokia, Google bought Motorola for its patents and there is no more old cell phone companies... We'll see if Panasonic CM1 will make the market, but they should have IS with that 1" 20MP sensor to get a decent IQ with a cell phone body esp for the price that they are asking...
I'm amazed some of these camera companies don't just go into the mobile phone segment. With the absolute selfie and food photo craze, surely they could build a phone that appeals to those types... Z...
Tough market is waiting for camera makers as Thom said "good enough wins". Sensor tech peaked eg m43 is cooking same old sensor except a few additional gimmicks with high end cameras. How many OMD/epl5 variants can they sell? But then they are competing with $450 Sony A6000 with pdaf sensors which is again beaten by the full frame A7... Sigma CEO said several times that the average mirrorless buyer stays with the kit lens and lately he was saying that there is a demand for FF. Thom's articles:

Did “Good Enough” Win?
Simple answer: yes.

The “good enough” problem is really eating away at the camera companies now. I think it’s going to be extremely important for them to understand whether the “good enough” versus “best possible” market splits:

Total camera shipments: 45m units
Total smartphone shipments: 1.3b units

So what’s wrong with that? One thing: "best possible" market is very small.
Selling Images is Like Selling Cameras
“the new mantra in the business is [also] 'Good Enough.' I've seen it in a flood of local cookbooks: poor unbalanced lighting, soft focus, bad composition, etc. It surprises me that any photo editor/publisher would allow any of it to get through. But then It’s 'Good Enough'. Does no one care more?”
 

bacil

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The prices are too high for Oly cameras. What premium do the customers pay for? Nikon D3300 or Sony A6000 with larger sensors are relatively cheaper than Oly cameras.
 

Carbonman

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The prices are too high for Oly cameras. What premium do the customers pay for? Nikon D3300 or Sony A6000 with larger sensors are relatively cheaper than Oly cameras.
I can't disagree with you on that. I'm not sure how much of the Sony and Nikon camera manufacturing is done in China, but that possible financial edge should allow Olympus to trim their camera body prices a little further.
I don't envy Japanese camera manufacturers trying to walk the business survival tightrope in this day and age. It's always easy to second guess and demand better pricing or special lenses when your financial neck isn't on the line...
 

cptobvious

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I think Olympus is trying to trim their costs even more by moving production to Vietnam. The cheaper R lenses were already made there, the 45/1.8 was moved there (and I think the rest of the lenses to follow), and the E-M5 II is being made there as well. Also they've ended their Worldwide Warranty program in the U.S. which was a move to get more profit from U.S. buyers.

I think their Imaging Division is perhaps under more cost-cutting pressure than in other companies due to being in the red for quite some time, and also the "extraordinary losses" the company is incurring due to the financial scandal. As far as I know, they've yet to settle the big lawsuit against them by a group of mostly Japanese banks.
 

Vinpocetine

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The 40Mp "wiggle sensor" is quite silver.
We're going to need to wait for a review on that... I'm pretty skeptical on its utility beyond still life / studio product photography, even as a best case scenario.

Granted, it might be a marketing silver bullet either way if they can plaster "40 Megapixels*" all over the the place.
 

Carbonman

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If Olympus decides the photography market is going to drag the company down and decides to get rid of the whole camera portion of their portfolio, watch for Canon or Nikon to make offers for the division. Either company would then have an easy way into M43 and the mirrorless market while saving face.
 

Vinpocetine

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If Olympus decides the photography market is going to drag the company down and decides to get rid of the whole camera portion of their portfolio, watch for Canon or Nikon to make offers for the division. Either company would then have an easy way into M43 and the mirrorless market while saving face.
I mean, I like m4/3 as much as the next guy, but from a business perspective, why would Canon or Nikon want to buy into m4/3? It appears to be losing market share to other mirrorless options and losing money for the companies involved in it, I don't really see it.
 

Carbonman

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Vinpocetine, Canon and Nikon are massive marketing machines. One of these companies could easily make M43 as viable a proposition as developing their own full mirrorless line could be. Developing a mount and lenses is easier for Canon and Nikon, but they would both rather eschew the development, tooling and marketing costs by acquiring a moderately viable product line.
The problem with the camera business as a whole is that it's not the monster moneymaker it used to be. A good friend that was a newspaper photographer in the 70s and 80s used to call photography "the sex of the 70s", alluding to everyone buying cameras at a rate never seen previously, with everyone having one. It was a decade full of good, easy to use cameras and incredibly extensive lens choices. Everybody I knew had at least one camera and three lenses. Those of us that made our living in the business had lots more - I carried two bodies, seven lenses and two flashes, and my gear was just average good.
Today, most folks using an interchangeable lens camera have the kit (zoom) lens and that's it. As is often noted here, the vast majority of people simply use their phones. Canon and Nikon are both looking at the deaths of their competition as harbingers of their futures. The audio industry is going through the same shrinking market and brand consolidation. Cell phones will be the only technology that survives because you can carry your sound, video, photo, internet and voice communications in a single (almost OK) package.
Sorry for what turned into a depressing rant. I'm old enough that much of what is available out there is crap compared to what I've used or still have.
 
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